Saving Energy

Simple Ways of Saving Energy

We've all heard often enough that it's time to start thinking and saving electricity. We're depleting the Earth's resources in record amounts, and it's becoming more and more clear that we need to start thinking in terms of protecting and preserving the Earth and her resources when we build.

Heating, air conditioning, lighting, cooking and refrigeration were the first elements easily identified as major power burners in private dwellings, and as such received a great deal of attention. Subsequent regulation has been directed toward building and insulation standards for climate control and hot water systems, especially for homes built to Energy Star and other efficiency and green building standards. However, there are many other sources of energy waste.

Often over-looked are the insidious consumers of electricity - products that appear to have been turned off, but which in fact continue to burn many watts while they lie idle in standby mode. Chargers (wall warts), DVD players, set-top boxes, and TVs all fall into this category. Again, as recent government legislation and programs have focused on setting maximum no-load and standby power consumption limits, designers of such equipment must find new solutions to match the demands of the regulations.

In recent years, we've seen a push to improve how efficiently we use our energy . But, is this proliferation of energy saving programs and incentives really helping to alleviate the energy crisis we're facing. If it is, is it enough? Is buying energy saving lights and appliances really going help us decrease the number of generating facilities we require to provide us with the energy we need now and in the future? Should we be confident that our politicians really understand how to fix our current and future energy situation?

I suppose we could take the position that every little bit helps. I can't deny that no matter how much or how little we save, it is better than doing nothing!

1. Turn off lights when you leave the room. That seems obvious, but how many times do we forget? And it's not just inside lights. Do you leave the porch light on when you go out for dinner and a movie? Over the long run, you'll save money by installing a motion sensor to turn the light on when you come home. Timers are also available to replace switches , so that the lights will go off after a preset time.

2. Turn off devices that you're not using. There really aren't many electrical devices in a home that need to be left on 24/7. In my own case, just the fridge and when I'm home the scanner and my 2 meter ham rig stay on all the time. That's about it.

3. Don't heat or cool to extremes. No matter how much you hate the heat (or cold), you'll save a lot of money if you keep your house around 28° - 29° in the summer and about 21° or so in the winter. I keep my house right at 28° during the summer and 21° (a much more pleasant temperature) in the winter. If you don't feel comfortable at those economical temperatures, adapt your clothing. It's your house, you can wear cut-offs or a sweatshirt if you like. And you'll love the money you save.

4. Add more insulation to your home. One of the most effective energy-saving things you can do. More insulation will help you keep it that way. As long as you're dealing with your water heater, you might as well add some insulation. Since the standard hot water heater is on all the time, adding extra insulation will save more energy than you think. Most hardware stores sell pre-made insulator "jackets" that can be easily wrapped around one's water heater. Experts estimate that adding insulation to your water heater and any exposed pipes can knock up to 15 percent off the costs of heating water. Then consider walls and double-pane windows. 5. Lower water heater temperature You'll save energy by lowering the temperature of your water heater. Many times the heater runs just to maintain a tankful of water at a temperature much higher than you'll ever use.

6. Put electric water heater on a timer. Installing a timer on your electric water heater is one of the best ways to save big bucks on your electric bill; that is, once you take care of the "simple" methods such as adding extra insulation to the tank and lowering the water heater temperature. For most families, that's in the morning and the evening. No need in running the heater when everyone's asleep or at work or school.

7. Use electricity on off-peak time. Off-peak time means 21:30-7:00 every day. During this period, the cost of electricity is half.

Although brief and only meant as an introduction, I sincerely hope that this article will bring new light to how we view and manage this serious energy problem we face not only for today, but for our future.


- Sabrina Chen

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